Image from inboundmarketingsquad.com

There has been a lot of change over the past few years as to what constitutes Inbound Marketing. Today I will go over the old and new definitions, as well as discuss some examples.

Traditionally, inbound marketing is unpaid marketing. This can be done through generating content, such as ebooks or podcasts, that is available for people to search for on their own time. At the opposite end of the spectrum is outbound marketing, which includes paid advertising such as print ads, TV commercials, cold calling, etc.

The problem with this definition, people argue, is that no marketing is truly free. Marketing directors still have to pay people to write the ebooks, or pay indirectly because the time that an employee spends producing content is time lost on other business activities. And what about pay-per-click marketing? [hyperlink] In this case, the consumer chooses to read more about the product, so the company is not spending money on trying to recruit people who are not interested. Wordstream published a more in-depth post about that place of PPC marketing in Inbound/Outbound marketing; as I will not go so into detail today, you can read that post here for more information.

So where does this debate leave us? Marketers now propose a new definition: inbound marketing is the method through which you “’get found’ by people already learning about shopping in your industry.” (from hubspot) Conversely, outbound marketing seeks out customers through unsolicited, often disruptive, ads.

Inbound marketing has become increasingly popular for several reasons. One is that consumers now have a lot of control over what they receive— calls from certain numbers can be blocked, and firewalls often render online ads invisible, which basically means that paying for these advertisements was wasted money. Another reason is that inbound marketing tends to have higher ROI [hyperlink]. 55% of companies who do content marketing through blogs say that the cost per lead generated from blogs is below average. In contrast, only 36% of companies say that the cost per lead through telemarketing is below average. Mashable published an infographic with more statistics—you can find it here.

Overall, outbound, wasted-effort marketing is on its way out, and inbound marketing looks like it’s here to stay.